This page provides archive information about policy and guidance to the NHS on engaging and informing patients and communities. If you would like up to date information please go to www.sath.nhs.uk/future
Policy and Guidance
The Department of Health provides policy and guidance to NHS organisations on involving patients and the public. Following the general election in 2010 the Department of Health is reforming arrangements for patient and public involvement. The new arrangements are described in the Health & Social Care Bill which is currently being considered by Parliament.
The information on this page therefore outlines the systems in place during 2010/11, firstly in England and then in Wales. These arrangements may change in future.
Arrangements in England
Local Involvement Networks in England: As a member of the public, you have a right to be involved in discussions and decisions about your health and social care services. By sharing your experiences and ideas with your Local Involvement Network (LINk), you can influence the way services are run.
Local Involvement Networks (LINks) are made up of individuals and community groups, such as faith groups and residents’ associations, working together to improve health and social care services.
The job of each LINk is to find out what people like and dislike about local services. The LINk then feeds this information back to health and social care providers, helping them to plan and deliver better services that reflect the wishes of local people.
The more people that get involved in your LINk, the stronger and more influential it becomes.
The two main local LINks are Telford and Wrekin LINk and Community Involvement in Care and Health, the Shropshire LINk.
Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees in England: All top tier local authorities (e.g. Shropshire Council, Telford and Wrekin Council) have a statutory role to scrutinise local health services. For example, they will scrutinise any proposals for substantial variation to ensure they are in the best interests of the health service locally. They do this through Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees made up of elected local councillors. Information about local Health Overview and Scrutiny arrangements is available from the websites of Shropshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council.
Four Tests for NHS Reconfiguration: All NHS organisations must ensure that any proposals for service reconfiguration are assessed against the following four tests:
support from GP commissioners
strengthened patient and public engagement
clarity on the clinical evidence base
consistency with current and prospective patient choice
More information is available from the Department of Health website.
Local NHS organisations need to demonstrate that these four tests have been considered during the process of developing, consulting on and deciding on significant changes to health services. Local Involvement Networks and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees have a key role in advising on and deciding whether the tests have been met.
If the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee feels that the tests have not adequately been met then firstly they should aim to resolve these issues locally with the NHS. If disputes remain then they can seek support from the regional Strategic Health Authority. Ultimately the Committee has the right to refer contested decisions to the Secretary of State for Health who may seek the formal advice of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.
Arrangements in Wales
Community Health Councils in Wales: Community Health Councils (CHCs) represent the interests of local people in health services.
The main local CHC is Montgomeryshire CHC.